In an age of proliferating online multi-media publishing platforms it would be a justifiable assumption that the clout: popularity, respect and authority, of a traditional print journal is diminishing. Not so.
The New Zealand Universities Law Review (NZULR) endures, maintaining its prestige amongst legal experts; academics and practitioners alike, says Professor Tony Smith, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Law, Victoria University Wellington, and member of its Editorial Board, in a recent interview, because it has held true to its founder’s intentions.
He explains that in 1963, the year of its inception, the numbers of students entering law schools were growing. Those increasing enrolments drove the expansion of what had been a very small academic cohort along with a need to establish a mutually acceptable vehicle to explore, discuss and debate topical issues free of any one particular university bias or influence. That vehicle, modelled on esteemed journals such as Law Quarterly Review and Cambridge Law Review, was named the New Zealand Universities Law Review.
To safeguard its equality and protect its integrity the editorial board of the NZULR was a joint partnership of the country’s then four law faculties. Subsequently that number has grown to six. Its goal, then and now, is to publish stand-alone, original research, thought and commentary usually pertaining to New Zealand law, of a calibre establishing and maintaining its status here and internationally as a respected and desirable show case of legal issues.
Professor Smith considers one of its most important roles is the part it played, (and continues to play), in developing New Zealand’s jurisprudence. He says when Britain joined the European Community (which subsequently became the European Union) in 1973 one of the inevitable downstream consequences was an increasingly independent legal outlook. That evolving legal system, although forged from our colonial legacy, needed underpinning with robust discussion and debate. NZULR became an important point of reference; a trusted source of information, analysis and synthesis for legal academics and practitioners alike.
Although the advent of Performance Based Research Funding (PBRF) which has influenced scholars to become more internationally oriented, Professor Smith says the Review continues to attract high quality submissions from academics looking for genuine debate on topics they are passionate about. While he regrets a system forcing its members to make strategic decisions as to where and what they publish, he says NZULR’s unique purpose as an independent voice for informed material on areas of interest and relevance to New Zealand’s growing and diverse legal cohort will keep it going long into the future.
“Foot prints of the past, to guide (influence, navigate, inform) the future”
Recently, the Review celebrated its half century with the publication of a special edition (Vol 25, NO 4 – October 2013) themed around: “Foot prints of the past, to guide (influence, navigate, inform) the future.” Its twelve articles provide a retrospective overview; marking the milestones along the developmental journey of specific areas of law and related fields.
Topics covered included:
- Fifty years of New Zealand family law
Bill Atkin, John Caldwell, Mark Henaghan and Pauline Tapp
- Fifty years of legal education in New Zealand: 1963 -2013 where to from here?
Margaret Wilson and ATH Smith
- Constitutional reflections on fifty years of the Ombudsmen in New Zealand
- Tawhaki and te Tiriti: A principles approach to the constitutional future of the Treaty of Waitangi
Click to see the full topic list
Click to read article abstracts
About publishing in NZULR
The editorial team welcomes your inquiry particularly if your topic has direct relevance to New Zealand law.
Find out more by visiting the NZULR website.